Short version, yes, but only when your ISP sell’s it…
Voice over IP (Internet Protocol) is an ever expanding market, especially within the corporate or large business area, however within the home or small business there is a very low adoption rate in comparison, especially when you look at none technical users adoption of the technology.
There are many reasons why you could say the implementation of VoIP has been hindered, these range from the cost, to the complexity of setting up a fully working VoIP solution. I do agree with most of these arguments however in reality I believe most of these could be overcome with some improvements in the technology, along with mass production of the hardware to overall reduce costs.
The main reason why VoIP isn’t widely used is the network it’s self, and specifically the quality of service over the network connection been used, controlled by your ISP.
Lets say your home network is on a broadband ADSL2+ connection and you have plenty of free bandwidth on this link, you setup a home VoIP solution and even configure QoS correctly within your house so that voice traffic will always have priority. VoIP traffic within your house is probably going to work great, you can even download/upload torrents etc and there will be zero issues.
However bandwidth isn’t cheap and when you buy broadband you will probably see that you’re going to be placed on a contention ratio, such as 40:1. This contention ratio is a bit like saying between 40 people we are going to allocate 20Mbps of traffic MAX, all of the 40 people will just be left to fight for the traffic as the need it. There are no rules set on this and congestion is going to occur as that’s how the service is designed.
So although the traffic within your house is getting a great service based on your QoS policies, the second you get onto the internet through your ISP’s connection your going to be equal to 39 other people in the ISP QoS policy, if even one of them is using a large amount of traffic for a second or two, your going to start noticing problems with making calls.
Now this doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t work in the future, as broadband networks are just like any other network and most will therefore support some level of QoS, at the moment all of a users traffic is placed into the same profile and therefore treated the same, this is where the problem lies.
If the service provider was to sell you a VoIP solution they would probably use something like dot1p to tag the traffic as ‘voice’ and tag everything else from your router as ‘data’ this profiling and rules would ensure that your voice data is now treated as a normal phone call. Basically the only difference here is that the service provider is reading the QoS values from the client’s router and then using these later in their network.
So why are so many large business using it at the moment? Well for a large company it’s fairly easy as they could just buy two bandwidth links from the ISP and use one for data and the other for voice, or they could buy a dedicated bandwidth link so they are not sharing it with anyone else (contention ratio of 1:1).
Either way your never going to see a wide implementation of VoIP in the home, unless your ISP’s are pushing the solution, as they are the only one who can change the QoS settings on your broadband network!